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Huế’s Folks and Spicy Food

(Below pictures are licensed and provided by Shutterstock and iStock)

Written and Illustrated by Chau Tonnu
Edited by Brynn Mitchell

I was born in Huế and lived there until I was 4 years old. At that young age, I never stopped to wonder why traditional food from Huế is so spicy. I just knew it was delicious. The spiciness of the food only augments the enjoyability of Huế’s most famous dishes. The burning sensation spreads across the lips and the tongue. Your mouth waters, and your nose runs. Eating Huế food is a multi-sensory experience.

Huế’s folks use chili peppers in almost every meal in a variety of ways. In broth like Bún Bò Huế, which is the most famous beef noodle soup of the region, chili powder is used. This dish is an integral part of culture and a “must try” Huế recipe.

Fresh chili peppers are used in dipping sauces for many dishes such as Bánh Bèo, Bánh Nậm. Bánh Bột Lọc, Bánh Ram, Bánh Ít, Cuốn Huế, and Cơm Âm Phủ.
Locals use crushed chili pepper to make traditional chili sauce used in Cơm/Bún Hến, clams with mixed Rice or white vermicelli.

Countless Huế dishes use chili peppers in one way or another and all of the food is noticeably spicier than in the northern and southern regions of Vietnam. One of the main reasons for this is the harsh weather of Huế. Spicy food warms locals up during the long winter and rainy season from December to January. From September to December, typhoon season brings rain as well, and flooding that can last hours or days. The heat from the chili peppers is a consistent comfort in Huế’s culture.

Huế’s people have always loved their land, and the food that comes from it each season. Lucky for locals, spicy food is always in season. Huế continues to celebrate and cherish what the land brings them, especially through food.